The Supreme Court has issued an order halting lower court rulings that would have restricted the availability of the abortion pill mifepristone, delaying the potential for an abrupt end to a drug that is used in over half of abortions in the United States. The order came just hours before restrictions were set to take effect, and marked the second time in a year that the Supreme Court had considered a major effort to sharply curtail access to abortion. The case has profound implications for abortion access and the F.D.A.’s regulatory authority over other drugs. If the ruling by the judge in Texas, which revoked the F.D.A.’s approval of the pill after more than two decades, were to stand, it could pave the way for all sorts of challenges to the agency’s approval of other medications and enable medical providers anywhere to contest government policy that might affect a patient. The Biden administration had asked the Supreme Court to intervene after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit let stand a number of restrictions in the Texas ruling, even as it said it would allow the pill to remain on the market. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented from the order, with Alito expressing skepticism of the F.D.A.’s claims that “regulatory ‘chaos’” would ensue if the lower court ruling went into effect. The case could ultimately have profound implications, even for states where abortion is legal. After the Fifth Circuit hears the appeal, the matter is likely to make its way back to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court allows broad access to abortion pill